Today’s Scrip-Bit 18 July 2021 John 20:15a.

John 20:15a.     Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?

Oh my people, a new day has opened, and with it, as always, comes the Lord’s new mercies and compassions! Wow! What a wonderful God we serve and worship! And today being Sunday, His Day, we are gathered together, by whatever means, technological or in reality, with the lifting of some of the pandemic restrictions, to give Him thanks and praise and glorify His holy name. 

So please join with me in opening with a song of worship, one that’s ever so reassuring and comforting to a believer’s heart and soul. It’s titled ‘In the Garden (He Walks with Me).’ We are talking about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ there, and the analogy seems to be linked to the Resurrection morning when Mary Magdalene surprisingly encounters Jesus in the garden close to where He had been buried. 

The author, American born, Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946) originally trained as a Pharmacist, but according to the Hymnary.Org website ‘in 1892, he aban­don­ed his ca­reer as a phar­ma­cist and wrote his first Gos­pel song, “List ’Tis Je­sus’ Voice” which was pub­lished by the Hall-Mack Com­pa­ny. He served as ed­i­tor and man­a­ger at the Hall-Mack pub­lish­ers for 37 years. In his own words: It is as a writ­er of gos­pel songs I am proud to be known, for in that way I may be of the most use to my Mas­ter, whom I serve will­ing­ly al­though not as ef­fi­cient­ly as is my de­sire.’ 

Now, hopefully, most of us believers could, and would make some such life-defining statement re our work for Christ. (smile) Anyway, ‘Inspired by the gospel of John, chapter 20, this hymn celebrates the joyous companionship its author experiences with Jesus as he walks through the garden.’ So let’s sing it now in a bright soulful manner. Let joy ring out from our hearts and souls, as we walk and talk with our Saviour. 

‘I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses… And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! He speaks and the sound of His voice, Is so sweet the birds hush their singing, And the melody that he gave to me, Within my heart is ringing . . . 

And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! I’d stay in the garden with Him though the night around me be falling. And He bids me go through the voice of woe, His voice to me is calling… And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other, has ever, known! (Repeat) 

Oh friends, how beautiful, how reassuring and comforting it is talking to our Lord and Saviour! That brings us to this further commentary on the Hymnary.Org website. ‘One occasionally hears stories of someone who disappeared and was assumed dead suddenly reappearing to their family and loved ones in a joyful surprise. 

Imagine how much greater Mary Magdalene’s shock and elation was when Jesus, whom she had seen dead and buried three days earlier (Mark 15:40, 47), suddenly called her by name and she turned and saw Him, very much alive and in person (John 20:16). This hymn elaborates on the emotions she may have felt in that moment, when her grief was turned to joy.’ 

Can we imagine Mary’s joy and relief? I don’t think so nuh. To be able to truly appreciate that moment and the overwhelming joy that comes from it, one has to personally experience it. It’s like when we say to someone else: ‘Oh, I know what you’re talking about, or going through.’ But we really don’t, or can’t, unless we have experienced the same experience (smile) or something very similar. 

However, putting all of that aside, I think it is worth recounting the story as told by John in the Good Book. Some of us only draw out the Resurrection Story on Easter Sunday, but it’s something that should constantly be on our minds, because without the Resurrection of Christ, there would be no salvation or eternal life. It is possibly the most important aspect of our faith, because if Christ had not risen from the grave, His birth and crucifixion would have been useless. 

Anyway, back to the story. There is Mary, standing at the empty tomb that Sunday morning, filled with grief, crying her eyes out, when the two angels who sat at the head and feet of the tomb ask her: ‘Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back (turned around), and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence (carried him away), tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say Master (Teacher). 

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not (do not cling to me); for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.’ (John 20:13-18) 

What an awesome experience my fellow saints. Can you imagine the disbelief, doubt and confusion that ran rife through that crowd of scared believers?  No more or less than what still runs rife between us two thousand years hence. But let me not show contempt for our faith, or lack thereof. (smile) Instead, here are some explanations from the scholars on Jesus’ words to Mary. 

‘20:17. Touch me not is a present imperative, forbidding the continuation of an action already begun, “Stop clinging to me” is a helpful paraphrase. Compare with verse 27, where, one week later, we are told He encouraged Thomas to touch Him. I am not yet ascended: “Do not worry, I am not leaving immediately.’ 

But He had to leave eventually, so that the Holy Spirit could come to indwell all believers thereafter, to lead and guide us in paths of righteousness. And I want to close with this marvellous idea, today would be a good day for us to take a quiet walk somewhere, and contemplate the words of our hymn, as we walk and talk together with Christ about our life. There could be no finer walking or talking partner. Much LOVE!

…when fears and doubts assail…Christ is always there to hear…and help us prevail…                                                                                            

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8                       

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